Chelsea 2 Juventus 2: Italians blast back to knock Oscar off centre stage
After scoring a quite brilliant 80th-minute equaliser that punished John Obi Mikel for yet another loose pass from deep in his own half, Quagliarella went dangerously close to snatching all three points for Juventus with an effort that clipped the bar.
It would have been harsh on a Chelsea side who had shown so much promise against the Italian champions.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires (Bertrand 68), Hazard, Oscar (Mata 74), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Romeu, Moses, Cahill, Azpilicueta.
Goals: Oscar 31, 33.
Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Lichtsteiner (Isla 77), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah, Giovinco (Quagliarella 75), Vucinic (Matri 88).
Subs Not Used: Storari, Lucio, Giaccherini, Marrone.
Goals: Vidal 38, Quagliarella 80.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Harsh, too, on Roberto Di Matteo when the evening provided more evidence that Chelsea’s young manager has a knack for making the right call on these big European occasions. In selecting Oscar ahead of Juan Mata for the 21-year-old Brazilian’s home debut, he had produced another tactical masterstroke.
Oscar succeeded in two roles — supporting the midfield by marshalling Andrea Pirlo and also in leading from the front.
Two goals in as many first-half minutes were a fine introduction to a Stamford Bridge crowd that rose to its feet after his second strike, a stunning right-foot shot on the turn that curled beyond the reach of the diving Gianluigi Buffon.
Oscar described himself as ‘an elegant ball player’ when he arrived at Chelsea and that was certainly true of the finish he produced in the 33rd minute.
The discipline Oscar displayed in tracking Pirlo, however, was not matched by his defensive colleagues. A moment’s lapse in concentration enabled Arturo Vidal to reduce the deficit within five minutes, before Quagliarella stepped off the bench to seize on Mikel’s mistake.
Yet there remained plenty of positives. No team has successfully defended the European Cup in the Champions League era and the road to Wembley looks perilous given the quality of Chelsea’s group. But Di Matteo has to be happy with the way his side is evolving.
Having paraded their trophy before kick-off, Chelsea started much as they concluded the last campaign on the Continent. They were confident and composed, with David Luiz the first to threaten when he met a Frank Lampard corner with an effort that bounced into the arms of Buffon.
Pirlo has not been his peerless self since the summer and with Oscar snapping at his heels, some of his early passes were not as precise as an English side might expect.
But the best of the early chances did fall to Juventus, the excellent Claudio Marchisio escaping the attention of the Chelsea back four in pursuit of a Vidal ball that called on Petr Cech to react fast and make a courageous block.
If that was a little fortunate, there was nothing remotely lucky about the goal that followed. It was a beauty. After collecting another pass from Cole with his back to goal, the £25million summer signing turned to beat Buffon again from more than 20 yards.
That Juventus responded as quickly as they did disappointed Di Matteo. Only a five minutes had passed when the excellent Vidal guided a left-foot shot through a crowded penalty area and beyond Cech.
It made what followed all the more painful for Di Matteo, even if his frustration may have been directed more at Mikel. It was the Nigerian who failed to challenge Vidal when he scored his goal and Mikel whose loose pass was intercepted by the magnificent Marchisio.
In response came a rather superior pass that invited Quagliarella to run off the shoulder of John Terry and guide his shot through the legs of Cech.
No prizes there for anyone in blue.
STAMFORD BRIDGE MATCH ZONE - by Matt Barlow
Didi do it? Yes, he certainly did
Oscar made his first start for Chelsea in the Champions League, in the No 11 shirt worn by the man who won the trophy with his last kick for the club. No pressure.
Oscar did not begin convincingly. He was off the tempo and passes didn’t find their targets, but this changed with two goals in three minutes. The touch to accept the pass ahead of his second was beautiful. It helped him relax and suggested he can fill the shirt of Didier Drogba.
Desailly eyeing dug-out
Marcel Desailly was among a healthy scattering of Chelsea greats at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night but is looking for a way out of his punditry duties and into the dug-out.
‘I’m doing my coaching badges and just finishing my Pro-Licence,’ he said. ‘I look forward to getting back into football with a coaching or management job. Slowly, slowly, I’m getting back to business.’
Young guns beware
Chelsea won this competition with know-how garnered from years of European campaigning. This is a younger, fresher squad and the Champions League will be a test for them. It will be new to Moses and Oscar.
Azpilicueta and Hazard have not been deep into the knock-out rounds. Manchester United hit trouble last year with a young squad and Roberto Di Matteo will be wary of the same trap.
Di Matteo hamstrung up front
There was no sign of Daniel Sturridge in the matchday 18, despite Roberto Di Matteo reporting a clean bill of health on the eve of the game. News of a hamstring injury trickled out; a reminder, if needed, of the scarcity of genuine central strikers in the Chelsea squad.
The Stamford Bridge manager’s options on the bench were Victor Moses, Juan Mata, three defenders and a defensive midfielder.